In Kaira Rouda’s Novel, Three Women Fight for One Man with Deadly Results

“It’s always best to be the original, to be the first. Not the next. Never the next.”

Kate Nelson and her husband, John, built their company EventCo from scratch. The power couple had everything – a close marriage, a daughter, Ashlyn, and a thriving business. But over dinner at a fancy restaurant, John announces that he’s leaving Kate to marry his assistant, Tish, a woman half his age. John tells Kate they will still run EventCo together, but he wants to be with his “soul mate.”

Tish, however, has a short shelf life. After a few years, John becomes weary of her possessiveness and tantrums. While she still works at the company, with only a GED and little experience, she is nothing more than fancy window dressing in John’s office. With the company going public, John needs Kate by his side. More than that, he realizes this second marriage was a mistake. He’s still in love with Kate and wants his family back together. Tish suspects something is going on, so when the IPO is announced, rather than let John attend the celebratory party, she insists on going to their condo in Telluride. 

John agrees to the trip, but can’t hide his feelings. The marriage is over, he says. Tish, however, refuses to concede defeat. Putting on her sexiest dress, she makes a pitcher of margaritas, hoping they can make up and have the romantic getaway she hoped for. When John falls asleep on the sofa, Tish goes to bed. The next morning she finds him dead, apparently from a heart attack, a common occurrence in the oxygen-thin atmosphere of Telluride.

Kaira Rouda (Photo Credit – Kristin Karkoska)

Kaira Rouda’s The Next Wife is a tale as old as time. The narrative enfolds in the voices of the three women who loved John – first wife, Kate, second wife, Tish, and daughter, Ashlyn. At one point in their lives, each woman felt loved, then betrayed. With John dead, the battle begins over EventCo. Kate is fighting, not only for her own position in the company she founded, but for Ashlyn’s future role. Yet when Tish produces a new will that leaves everything to her, Kate realizes she may have been out maneuvered. With so much hurt and anger floating around, it’s not long before violence follows. 

No one knew much about Tish before she arrived in town. John sent a text to Ashlyn the night before he died that included a photo of the margarita pitcher. Kate received a voice mail where John’s voice sounded like he had been drugged. Mother and daughter believe Tish killed John. And when Ashlyn turns up information from Tish’s past, that she may have murdered her stepfather, that suspicion gains traction. Finding evidence will be a challenge. The Colorado coroner ruled John’s death was caused by cardiac arrest and Tish rushed to have his body cremated. 

The Next Wife turns into a cat fight, not portraying any of the women in a positive light. But the character who truly is unlikeable is John. He sets in motion the tragedies that ultimately befall his two wives and his daughter. When all is said and done, he was never worth fighting over.

The Next Wife
Kaira Rouda

Top photo: Bigstock

About Charlene Giannetti (469 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia.